Reviews for Dancing in the storm

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A Louisiana seventh grader copes with a rare, progressive disease. Gymnast Kate Lovejoy should feel elated after winning a gold medal in a meet, but a persistent shoulder ache dims her happiness. Downplaying her pain, she blames her tears on her dog’s recent death. But soon, the pain becomes too agonizing to ignore, and eventually, Kate is diagnosed with fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva, a genetic disorder in which muscles and connective tissue turn to bone. Because physical impacts can trigger flare-ups, doing gymnastics is no longer feasible. Her fellow gymnasts and Girl Scouts aren’t sure how to act around her, and Kate’s reluctance to disclose her diagnosis threatens her relationship with best friend Mindy. Kate has many fears: What if she’ll require a wheelchair or need help with toileting? Fortunately, she’s surrounded by supportive family and corresponds with a mentor, Amie—a self-insert of co-author Specht, who also has FOP. Kate and Amie’s conversations simultaneously explore worries and challenges and offer reassurance and resources. As Kate gradually gains confidence, she discovers the perfect topic for her English essay on changing the world. Authors’ notes explain that Kate’s story is drawn from Specht’s life, and it shows. Though the dialogue is occasionally somewhat stilted and the pacing slightly uneven, Kate’s fear, loss, and anger are vividly portrayed, and others’ awkward or ableist reactions ring painfully true. Kate and her family read white; secondary characters are racially and socioeconomically diverse. Educational and encouraging. (Fiction. 8-12) Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.